FoodCycler Platinum Composting Machine


#1

After the discussion about the conversation that started on the Westinghouse Zera thread (the device that can turn waste to compost in 24 hours) I got a bug in my brain that I really needed this device but couldn’t justify the $1200 cost. But a similar device called the Food Cycler, which has been around for a few years (and longer in S. Korea, where it’s made) and I saw it listed on WayFair for $235. The price is now up to $285 so I’m glad I jumped when I did.

I ordered the unit about a week ago and just got it today. I promptly loaded it with some food waste that I’ve been saving for just such an occasion, and the machine is now quietly humming on my kitchen counter. They say it should take about 3 hours to finish its cycle.

Since there was a good discussion going about the Zera, and since gardening is a popular topic, I figured I’d post about my experience with the unit here, in case others have any interest in getting one.

First impression; it’s a pretty big machine - about as big as a full-size bread maker. The unit I got was (unexpectedly) the “Platinum” version, which for some reason isn’t detailed on the Food Cycler website, but is available from Amazon for $319. I don’t know why WayFair doesn’t use an accurate picture, but I’m glad I got this one because it’s a little nicer looking and it has a filter-change indicator light, which I look forward to ignoring in a few months. There are apparently no other functional differences.

As it’s operating now, it makes a constant light hum - about the same volume as a tattoo gun, or maybe an electric toothbrush. Every few minutes it seems to make different whirring noise for a few seconds - it’s possible this is the grinder activating, or maybe not since that’s supposed to be a different part of the cycle. The sound is not too distracting, but is the kind of thing that would be annoying to be around for long. Once I’ve finished the test cycle, I plan on putting it in the laundry room where I won’t be able to hear it, and probably only run it at night or when I’m out of the house.

The bucket of the unit is relatively small for the size of the overall unit. I didn’t measure, but probably holds about 6-8 cups of food waste up to the fill-line, which I exceeded, of course. For me, that’s probably half a week’s worth of food waste, and that’s probably a good thing; my old compost bucket would fill up after about a week and be pretty smelly after that period of time. If I’m processing food waste every few days it’ll probably be a lot less mess and smell.

So that’s my first report. I’ll update this tonight when the first batch is done, but until then, feel free to ask any questions.


#2

Interesting. If I had more kitchen space, I might be interested


#3

Well if there’s a corner of your home (like a pantry or laundry room) it can be kept, it’s not that big. It’s the kind of thing you could take out twice a week and leave on the counter overnight to process.

That said, so far I’m not recommending this product. The first batch took about 4 hours (not sure if it has some kind of fuzzy logic/sensors or if it’s just a programmed time) and didn’t come out as I had expected. Instead of the dried chunks that are depicted in the demos, the “compost” was more of a damp, clumpy material more like what I currently get out of my composter after a month or two. It was not substantially broken down and many of the stringier bits were still stringy (I had a half of a bunch of cilantro in there that I didn’t bother to cut up). I did overload it a bit, so maybe it was not able to dry/crush the way it was intended. Either way, my wife said it looked like something we would put in to our composter, not something we would take out and put in our garden. She was not impressed :confused:

I’m trying another batch that will be ready in the morning and we’ll see what that looks like. I’m starting with some pretty ripe, damp material so I’m not sure this is the typical use case; I expect that in the coming weeks I’m more likely to start off with fresher scraps and do smaller loads.


#4

Ok, second batch was done this morning, and it’s definitely an improvement over the first batch;


This compost started as a soupy mess of week-old food waste of the foulest sort. It was all vegetable matter, though Foodcycler says you can do meat and even small bones (chicken and fish). A lot of negative reviews that I read seemed to be people who did meat and bones, so I’m going to stay away from that kind of material.

The waste was packed full (but not exceeding the 7 cup capacity) in to the tub of the FoodCycler and set to go overnight. Because it was on overnight I don’t know the duration of the cycle but I assume it was about 3-4 hours. It was however still “on” in the morning, making a light humming noise, and it was still slightly warm to the touch. No lights were on however, so I’m confused about why and what might have been operating. Either way as you can see the results are very dirt-like and the 7 cups of waste turned in to 2 cups of compost. There is almost no smell. Some of it is a fine dirt-like consistency, but there are some chunks up to about an inch in diameter, which are very hard to the touch - not crumbly at all. But I think when it is mixed in with soil, it will absorb moisture and break down very quickly.

Overall, I’m quite satisfied with the results - it does exactly as I had hoped it would, and seems to be a good solution to my composting problems.

Pros:
Works as advertised
No smell
Relatively quiet
Simple operation

Cons:
Does not offer manual control (can’t do a second “grind”)
Somewhat small capacity
Does not turn itself completely off


#5

Codys lab mentioned putting meat in an anerobic digestor for making methane. He said that too much meat resulted in too many nitrates that killed the bacteria.


#6

This was part of specification list.
Runs at 300 KW per month
Confused.


#7

this makes feel happy that I can just dump my stuff in the food waste bin including food soiled papers and compostable plastics and the city will take to a giant industrial compost site.


#8

Actually we have municipal composting in my area, but the reason that I am excited about this machine isn’t the waste management aspect of it, but the production of compost, and also the convenience. Y’see, I live in a fourth-floor walkup, which means that I try to make the trip down to the building’s trash cans as infrequently as possible. Also, it means that everything that comes up to my apartment requires a lot of labor. I have a rooftop garden, so it makes a lot of sense for me to keep as much of my food waste upstairs as possible, and turn it in to compost for the garden - saves me a lot of trips to the trash can, and means I don’t need to haul as much soil/fertilizer up.

I should also mention that I have tried conventional composting but that, mostly because of my laziness, I have not gotten good results from that, and I now refer to my rooftop compost bin as an artisinal maggot farm.

That is a strange number from the Wayfair site. The box and specs on the FoodCycler site says it runs on 500w. I’m not sure whether it draws that much through the entire cycle, or only when heating (I’m curious enough that I might actually get an energy monitor or something). That does seem like a lot of power though. If I run it twice a week for three hours and it’s max power the whole way through, that would be 8 kWh, and would cost about a dollar a month, if I’m doing the math right.


#9

Did it come with any sort of powder or other additive? I’ve meant to look into these things to see if they’re essentially bokashi composting.


#10

No - no additives needed. That’s one of the advantages of this device.

That does look like a good technique though - might be good for my regular compost if I find the need to keep that going.


#11

Well, bokashi doesn’t require power, but hunting down or making the additive can be a total PITA. So if your wee unit keeps happily humming along (providing it’s not costing the bomb in hydro), it sounds like it may be a better solution. If you can get into the habit of running it two or three times a week, sounds like it’ll work!


#12

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